This week on the ThrawnCast, we talk about how Tim Zahn found out Thrawn was coming to Rebels and discuss the first four chapters of Heir to the Empire.
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Ahhhh the Thrawn books. Honestly, is there anything more classic than Zahn’s trilogy when it comes to the Expanded Universe? If you’re here for the snark, you’ll have to wait a little bit longer because between these three books and another X-Wing novel? I have nothing but praise this go-round. (Shocking, I know.)
Heir to the Empire
One of the first things that occurred to me while I was reading this book is how much the Star Wars universe owes to Timothy Zahn. There is so much about the universe that I just take for granted that I’m now realizing/remembering is all thanks to Zahn. Coruscant? Zahn. Personalities for character who really only cameoed in the films but are integral parts of the EU? Zahn. Bringing Wedge Antilles to the forefront? Zahn. Introducing the best character ever, aka Winter? Zahn. I mean, I’m not saying that Zahn is god but the amount of canon he contributed is amazing.
What I love about this book and the entire trilogy is that the story still clearly feels like Star Wars but still has its own tale to tell. It’s not a rehashing of the Emperor or Vader because the villains have their own motivations and characterizations. (I’ll save my ‘Why I love Pellaeon’ ramble for another post.) Thrawn is most certainly his own character who takes a very different approach to winning the war than any other Imperial we’ve seen before. It’s pretty cool that he can study art and figure out how someone will react. And then you have C’boath who is just bonkers. His original model wasn’t much of a charmer to begin with so this probably shouldn’t be surprising.
And then we have the introduction of the ever fabulous Mara Jade. If there are people in our universe who dislike her, I don’t want to know about them. I positively adore everything about her and what she brings to the story. I’m also a huge fan of Talon Karrde and his smuggling organization that doubles as the best intelligence agency not controlled by a government. I’d happily read a book all about Karrde and his organization. Pretty please, Del Ray? Also, I will admit to also not really getting the Wild Karrde joke either until a few years ago because I pronounced the ‘e’ in my mind. Nanci isn’t alone here.
Of course, all the familiar characters are always great to read about. Zahn clearly gets Luke, Han, Leia, and Lando and writes them all quite well. Plus, I think he did a great job of bringing each of them five years forward from Endor so we see the same characters but we also get to see a logical progression for each one.
The story is good too. It’s a set up novel for the rest of the trilogy but never feels like it’s only there as exposition because it has its own tale to tell before the final page is turned. Enjoyable all around.